Is Imperialism inherently wrong?

I’ve been struggling with this a lot as I get older. Was the Manifest Destiny an evil philosophy? I’m pretty sure I’ve been told that the ends cannot be used to justify the means. But look at all the good that has been done through expanding America from East to West. And imagine what the world would be like if the Spanish hadn’t colonized and spread Christianity across much of the globe.

I expect to receive majority answers that yes, it is wrong. But I feel like if the question were asked 50 years ago I’d get a lot more no’s. Imperialism and conquest are so heavily frowned upon in our society, but certainly not long ago that wasn’t the case. People used to be proud of their nations, and used to seek glory for them. This is so common even in the Old Testament.

Take a look at what’s going on in the middle east and it should be clear that it’s a bad idea. I think it’s wrong, it’s usually for money and power.

Definition:
Manifest Destiny was the 19th century American belief that the United States (often in the ethnically specific form of the “Anglo-Saxon race”)[1] was destined to expand across the continent. It was used by Democrats in the 1840s to justify the war with Mexico; the concept was denounced by Whigs, and fell into disuse after the mid-19th century.

The belief in an American mission to promote and defend democracy throughout the world, as expounded by Abraham Lincoln and Woodrow Wilson, continues to have an influence on American political ideology.

My opinion:
Manifest Destiny is a utopic view and a utopic fallacy. It holds the assumption that their form of government (Democracy) is suprerior to all other forms of government. It holds the assumption that it is morally justified to spread this government on other people for a greater good.

Did not Roman Civilization / Catholic Europe / Napolean / Hitler / Communism / & now Democracy not try to impose peace on other ethinicities and nationalisities to promote world peace?

Democracy is already in decline. Democracy only works in societies that have absolute morality.

After Western Democracy collapses, what form of government is next?

Well that depends on what specifically you’re referring to, and your point of view. The middle east wasn’t exactly a peaceful place before we tried to impose democracy upon it either. I’m sure there are people who would argue it’s much better now than when Saddam Hussein was out genociding his own people away.

Then instead of saying Democracy is in decline, shouldn’t we be saying that morality is in decline? Democracy is always democracy, its morality that is changing.

No form of government will be successful in governing 300 million people if those people are not adherent to morality. Even in a theocracy that is enforcing absolute morality, 300 million people can easily overturn it.

You make a good point. 300 million is tough because there is tons of ethno-nationalism within that many people.

Ethnonationalism being defined as the natural tendency for people to group with people that have similiar ideas, characteristics, etc. This force is what drives nations together and drives nations apart.

However, in my humble opinion, and in the good ole days, Catholic Europe held absolute morality for almost a 1000 years. That is 4X longer than our democracy experiment.

This is because Catholic Europe had the inquisition. Which helped preserve absolute morality and solid Cathecisis.

Thoughts??

I was thinking more about what the British did. For instance, coming up with new borders to suite their own needs without any consideration for the people that lived there.

Ohhh I see now what you’re saying. Sorry for the misunderstanding.

But, the caveat of this seems to be it is merely an example of how imperialism can easily go awry. But does that necessarily mean it is inherently evil? It seems we can certainly conclude that it CAN have lasting evils. But can it ever be done morally and justly?

The people of most British colonies were never so well governed, before or since.

Very interesting. In response to the first part of your question, I do think a possible consequence resulting from a hypothetical meltdown of our government and economy would be dividing the United States into smaller governing units, or having each state assume a role as the top tier government, without a national government (each state acting as its own nation). There is so much disagreement and conflict in our nation among cultural, ethnic, religious, and especially political perspective that I can see this happening, and honestly might be the best way to avoid widespread violent struggles for central power that will surely unfold after the federal government goes out of business.

But as an alternative, I wouldn’t be opposed to an inquisition or similar theocratic body having power in America, but where we are now it is seemingly impossible that such a body could ever gain power in the western world. Atheism is on the rise in the west. Even if an inquisition could suppress such a heresy, the problem lies in merely establishing the inquisition and giving them a legal right to do so. But if the nation were divided into smaller nations, perhaps a location that is rich in evangelism and Christianity would be in favor of such a thing, and that could be our little safe haven.

Haha, yeah I seem to remember one group of colonies in particular that were so terribly managed by King George III that they rebelled and kicked his butt to kingdom come.

You mean like we were before 1776? Or Ireland under the Penal Laws and during black '47? Or Hong Kong before Mainland China get it? Just wendering! :confused::newidea:

Good analysis. I agree with what you stated. It will be difficult to see how it will all play out. More power needs to go to the states to cushion a fall of the Federal Gov’t. Appears the opposite is occuring though.

In answer to your original question, no imperialism is not inherently wrong. It would be difficult to read Revelation even somewhat literally without recognizing that Jesus is an imperial power. But whether or not humanity can implement a moral imperialistic state… I am doubtful.

I know I’m sort of bringing back an old topic here, but I’m still wondering a lot about it.

What if I rephrased the question:

Can Imperialism ever be done in a justified, moral fashion? I saw a topic somewhere on here about colonizing alien worlds (hypothetical scenario) so I keep coming back to this debate.

Can conquest ever be justified? Can we colonize land, take land, or take resources from other people without being in moral err? What if we don’t kill any of the indigenous civilians, but take control because it is in truth in their best interest to be ruled under Christian rule? By “we” I am not referring to the United States. If I have to put an entity on “we,” let us just suppose I am referring to a hypothetical Christian power.

I just can’t seem to reconcile the conquering exploits in the Bible with the post-modern hatred of all things imperialistic.

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.